2 min

Queer programming grows at CaribbeanTales 2016

This year includes several short films as part of the LGBT Love series

  Rainbow Revolution, which follows activist and retired dancer Simone Harris, premieres in Canada at this year’s CaribbeanTales International Film Festival.  Credit: Courtesy Jordan Morris

For the last decade, the CaribbeanTales International Film Festival (CTFF) has showcased filmmakers of Caribbean heritage and celebrated their craft through diverse and dynamic programming. The festival’s vast scope focuses on artists working across the world among the Caribbean diaspora.

Every year, CTFF shows even more queer films. This year includes LGBT Love, a series of short films ranging from experimental to comedy. My Silky Blue Frog Shortz (Lezlie Lee Kam) is a sexy, comedic short that examines body image, queer identity and ability, while Pieta (Melanie Grant) tells the story of a woman struggling to come out to her ailing mother. Other shorts to look out for include the effervescent love story Cold (Julia Rodriguez, Gilda Monreal and Salvador Sol Valder) and Dying Swan (Christopher Laird), which follows artist Peter Minshall in drag.

LGBT Love also features the Canadian premiere of Rainbow Revolution from journalist and documentary filmmaker Kaneal Gayle. The film chronicles the changing political landscape in Jamaica and the island’s first Pride festival in 2015.

As a journalist, Gayle says he was anxious to capture the evolving LGBT movement in the Caribbean on film.

“I spend most of my time working on interesting and ground-breaking stories and features. I was, therefore, eager to capture this historic moment for Jamaica on film,” Gayle says. “It also gave me an opportunity to tell a story that will live long after I’m gone and become an important part of the overall story of the evolution of the LGBT movement in Jamaica.”

Gayle explains that LGBT Jamaicans have chosen to associate their struggle with Emancipation Day, celebrating their ancestors who fought for freedom. Celebrating Pride during the festival forms a uniquely Jamaican link from one struggle against oppression to another.

Rainbow Revolution focuses on artist, activist and retired dancer Simone Harris who kick-started the inaugural Jamaican Pride through a flash mob she choreographed in Emancipation Park in Kingston. She was later named the Face of Pride by the Jamaican Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG).

“Being named the Face of Pride by J-FLAG was a total surprise and an honour,” Harris says. “I didn’t expect any sort of title for my contribution to producing the first Pride. I was just on a mission to support something greater than myself.”

Harris says positive change for the queer community in Jamaica continues to be a challenge, but that visibility is paramount to ensuring progress continues on the island.

“It is not easy to change the culture of an entire country and so change has been slow but we can see it in these very public moments of visibility,” she says.“Through our Pride celebrations, we are saying, ‘we are here and we won’t be pushed back into closets cowering in fear.’”